What is a Daniel fast?
A Daniel Fast is a partial fast patterned after Daniel 1:8-16. Following his conquest of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzer, king of Babylon, took some of the Israelites into his palace where he intended to instruct them in the ways of the Chaldeans for three years. This instruction included eating the same rich foods the king did. Daniel and three of his friends were part of those chosen to live with the king. However, Daniel resolved not to eat the king's food, as it would defile him by going against Mosaic dietary laws. He requested to be served only vegetables, which would have included fruit, and water. The king's eunuchs agreed to test Daniel and his friend for ten days on this diet. If the men appeared weak, they were to eat the king's food. However, at the end of the allotted time Daniel and his friends were healthier than the rest. They were therefore allowed to continue eating their chosen diet of vegetables and water. Daniel 10:2-3 is another source of information for the Daniel Fast protocol: "In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks."
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A typical Daniel Fast involves eating only vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, quality oils, and whole grains. Water is the only beverage. No meat or animal products (including dairy) are allowed, nor are sweeteners, hard fats (such as margarine or shortening), chemicals (including caffeine and those in processed or refined foods), or leavened breads. There are no stipulations as to the quantity of food, only the types of food that may be eaten. Many choose to follow the fast for twenty-one days.
While following the Daniel Fast often results in weight loss and other health benefits, proponents tout its spiritual value. The Bible talks about denying the flesh; removing sweetened and fatty foods that we would normally eat (and may crave) is one way to do so. The intent of the fast is to restrict food for a specific period of time in order to reach a spiritual goal. People who are looking for God's specific direction in an area or simply wanting to draw closer to Him often use a dedicated period of fasting, coupled with prayer, as a tangible demonstration of their heart's desire for God.
There are several online resources regarding the Daniel Fast, including http://www.daniel-fast.com. Before beginning any type of fast, keep in mind that to truly be a fast – and not a diet – it must have a spiritual intent. Also, be sure to check with a doctor or healthcare provider regarding any specific dietary needs you may have.
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